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Fidel Castro: Bearded revolutionary who laughed in America's face

Published 26/11/2016

The bearded and ferocious Fidel Castro ruled Cuba unchallenged for nearly half a century, hated by the United States - whose secret service more than once tried to assassinate him - and was at the centre of the Cuban missile crisis which brought the US and the Soviet Union to the very brink of nuclear war.

The world held its breath for 12 unbearably tense days in October 1962 after President John F Kennedy discovered that Kremlin leader Nikita Khruschev was placing nuclear missile installations on the island, just 90 miles from Florida.

The crisis - probably the most perilous time of the entire Cold War - was abated only when Khruschev backed down and said the installations would be dismantled.

When Castro, and his Marxist revolutionary friends, seized power in 1959, he proceeded to nationalise all American property, leading to relentless hostility towards him from the United States.

The CIA tried all manner of ways to assassinate him, including a bizarre exploding cigar, designed to detonate when Castro puffed on it, and booby-trapped seashells in spots where he used to enjoy diving.

In 1961, US-backed Cuban exiles tried to invade the island at the Bay of Pigs, but forces led by Castro successfully fought them off.

Meanwhile, the Cuban economy was being propped up by the Soviet Union - a further source of friction between Cuba and the United States - with the Kremlin purchasing vast amounts of sugar and supplying Castro with economic and military aid.

But the collapse of communism and the destruction of the USSR reduced Cuba to a dire economic state and left Castro a diminished international figure.

Even so, he remained unchallenged. But in July 2006, ill health caused him to delegate virtually all his duties to his brother, Raul Castro.

This transfer was supposed to be temporary while Fidel recovered from surgery for "an acute intestinal crisis with sustained bleeding". By then, Fidel was physically frail and infirm. Raul officially took power as first secretary in 2008.

(FILES) This file photo taken on December 07, 2005 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro gesturing as he delivers his speech during a political meeting in Cardenas city, province of Matanzas, some 80 miles east of Havana. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on December 07, 2005 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro gesturing as he delivers his speech during a political meeting in Cardenas city, province of Matanzas, some 80 miles east of Havana. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This combination made on August 03, 2006 shows pictures of Cuban President Fidel Castro ranging from his early childhood to the present days in 2006. AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on November 08, 1997 shows then King Juan Carlos I of Spain (R) speaking with then Cuban President Fidel Castro (L) during the opening ceremony of the VII Ibero-American summit in Margarita Island, Venezuela. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / ROBERTO SCHMIDTROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken in April 1961 shows Fidel Castro (R) looking out from a tank during the Bay of Pigs combats in Cuba. During the Bay of Pigs invasion, a US backed assault by 1,400 Cuban exiles failed to bring down Fidel Castro's two year old government. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother announced on national television. AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on November 09, 1971 shows General Augusto Pinochet (L), then Chile's army chief, saluting with Cuban leader Fidel Castro (R) during Castro's visit to Chile during the presidency of socialist president Salvador Allende. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 26, 2016 in Havana aged 90, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / --/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file picture dated September 1973 shows Cuba's President Fidel Castro (R) looking at a rifle during a visit in North Vietnam during the Vietnam war. While Castro is reviled by many at home and abroad who accuse him of being a despot with little tolerance for dissent, in Vietnam he is widely revered, especially among war veterans who saw him. / AFP PHOTO / AVI / --/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This handout photo taken by TASS Russian news agency on January 1, 1964 near Moscow, during his official visit to USSR shows Cuban First Secretary of the Cuban Communist party and President of the State Council Fidel Castro wearing a chapka. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / TASS / HO / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / TASS" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS HO/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This handout photo taken by TASS Russian news agency on January 1, 1964 near Moscow shows Cuban First Secretary of the Cuban Communist party and President of the State Council Fidel Castro skiing during his official visit to USSR, followed by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev (2L). Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / TASS / HO / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / TASS" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS HO/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This handout photo taken in April 1963 in Krasnodarskiy Krayat the country residence of Khrushchev in the USSR and provided by Oficina de Asuntos Historicos del Consejo de Estado shows Cuban President Fidel Castro (2L) chatting with the Secretary of the Central Committee of the Soviet Union, Leonid Brezhnev (L) and with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev (R). Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / Oficina de Asuntos Historicos del Consejo de Estado / HOHO/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on July 20, 2006 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro (R) looks at his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez who claps his hands at the closing ceremony of the Alternative People' s Summit in Cordoba, Argentina, 21 July 2006. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died on November 26, 2016 in Havana aged 90, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / PABLO PORCIUNCULAPABLO PORCIUNCULA/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on December 14, 1974 shows then head of the French Social Party François Mitterrand (C), walking with Cuban leader Fidel Castro (L) and the eldest brother of Fidel Castro, Ramon Castro (R, foreground) in Havana. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / --/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on March 13, 1995 shows then Cuban President Fidel Castro (L) waving from the Elysee Palace entrance next to his then French counterpart François Mitterrand in Paris. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / MICHEL GANGNEMICHEL GANGNE/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on May 14, 1993 in Havana shows Cuban President Fidel Castro (R) meeting with Georges Marchais, secretary of the French Communist Party. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on March 14, 1995 shows Cuban president Fidel Castro (2nd R) walking under the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / --/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on March 14, 1995 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro (R) points at Leonardo da Vinci's painting "La Joconde" (Mona Lisa) during his visit to the Louvre museum with former Socialist culture minister Jack Lang, in Paris. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / MICHEL GANGNEMICHEL GANGNE/AFP/Getty Images
FILE - In this undated file photo, Fidel Castro poses for a portrait in an unknown location. Cuba's President Raul Castro said on state television that his older brother Fidel died late Friday, Nov. 25, 2016. He was 90. (AP Photo, File)
(FILES) This handout picture released on March 30, 2011 by Cuban official website "www.cubadebate.cu" shows former Cuban president Fidel Castro (R), former US president Jimmy Carter (L) and his wife Rosalynn Carter (C) posing during a meeting in Havana. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / www.cubadebate.cu / ALEX CASTRO / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO/cubadebate.cu/Alex Castro" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS ALEX CASTRO/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on May 12, 2002 shows former US president Jimmy Carter (R) delivering a speech as Cuban President Fidel Castro (L) and Carter's wife Roselynn Carter (C) listen after his arrival to the Jose Marti airport. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on August 08, 2010 shows former Cuban President Fidel Castro (R) talking with his wife Dalia Soto del Valle, during a special session of the Cuban Parliament, in Havana. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This handout photo taken on March 12, 2007 in Havana and released by El Tiempo on March 20, 2007 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro talking to Colombian Nobel Prize Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / EL TIEMPO / HOHO/AFP/Getty Images
A woman places flowers outside the Cuban embassy to pay tribute to the late revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, in Moscow on November 26, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Vasily MAXIMOVVASILY MAXIMOV/AFP/Getty Images
A man arrives to place flowers outside the Cuban embassy in tribute to the late revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, in Moscow on November 26, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Vasily MAXIMOVVASILY MAXIMOV/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on March 4, 2000 in Havana shows Cuban President Fidel Castro (L) talking with the Colombian Nobel Laureate of Literature, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, during a dinner at the closing of the Cuban Cigars Festival. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
Flowers are left as a tribute to the late Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro outside the country's embassy in Moscow on November 26, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Vasily MAXIMOVVASILY MAXIMOV/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This handout photo taken and released by Prensa Latina on January 30, 1979 in Havana, shows Iraqi vice-president Saddam Hussein (C) standing during his visit to Cuba with Cuban President Fidel Castro (L) and Defense minister General Raul Castro. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / PRENSA LATINA / --/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on September 02, 1998 shows South African President Nelson Mandela greeting Cuban leader Fidel Castro as he arrives for the opening of the 12th Non-Aligned Movement summit in Durban. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / ODD ANDERSENODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on September 02, 2001 shows Cuban president Fidel Castro (R) expressing his joy in meeting former South African president Nelson Mandela at Mandela's office in Johannesburg. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / YOAV LEMMERYOAV LEMMER/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on July 26, 1991 shows African National Congress (ANC) President Nelson Mandela saluting the crowd next to Cuban leader Fidel Castro in Matanzas, Cuba. AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on April 21, 2015 shows the original hat of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro laid out for display at the Spy Museum in the western German city of Oberhausen. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / PATRIK STOLLARZPATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on March 12, 2016 in Guantanamo, 27 km from Guantanamo Naval Base, shows a couple walking next to a poster of Cuban President Raul Castro and Cuban former president Fidel Castro. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / Nicolas GarciaNICOLAS GARCIA/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This picture belonging to the Mendez's family of Cuban Marlon Mendez (L) shows him saluting next to Cuban former president Fidel Castro (R) during his visit to Castro's house on August 16, 2014 in Havana. Marlon, who collected Castro's pictures and likes to dress up like him, was invited by the leader to meet him at his home. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / FAMILY ARCHIVE MENDEZ FAMILY / HOHO/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on July 29, 2016 in Havana shows a poster of Cuban President Raul Castro and Cuban former president Fidel Castro. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / YAMIL LAGEYAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on July 26, 2016, in Sancti Spiritus Province, 400 km east of Havana, shows Cubans waving flags in front of a poster with images of former president Fidel Castro during the celebration of the 63rd anniversary of the guerrilla assault to the Moncada Barracks, widely regarded as the beginning of the Cuban Revolution. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This April 1961 file photo shows a group of Cuban counter-revolutionaries, members of Assault Brigade 2506, after their capture in the Bay of Pigs, Cuba. During the Bay of Pigs invasion, a US backed assault by 1,400 Cuban exiles failed to bring down Fidel Castro's two year old government. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL VINASMIGUEL VINAS/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This handout by Argentine Canal 13 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro (L) playing with a football with Argentinian former football star Diego Armando Maradona, during the recording of Maradona's TV program "The 10's Night" in Havana, 26 October 2005. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / CANAL 13 / HO / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / CANAL 13" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS HO/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file picture released by Juventud Rebelde shows Cuban leader Fidel Castro (R) and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia (L) during a meeting in Havana on February 13, 2016. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / JUVENTUD REBELDE.CU / ALEX CASTRO / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / JUVENTUDREBELDE.CU / ALEX CASTRO"" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS ALEX CASTRO/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on December 06, 2000 shows Cuban Fidel Castro (L) looking at former castaway Elian Gonzalez speaking on a microphone at a school in Cardenas, Cuba, during a party to celebrate his seventh birthday. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on December 01, 1995 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro warming his hands in freezing temperatures on the Badaling section of the Great Wall of China. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECKROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on April 12, 2001 shows Chinese President Jiang Zemin (R) and Cuban President Fidel Castro (L) reviewing a guard of honor upon Jiang's arrival in Havana. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This handout photo taken on January 27, 2014 and provided by Cubadebate shows former Cuban President Fidel Castro (R) listening to Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff (L) during a meeting in Havana. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / CUBADEBATE / ALEX CASTRO / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / CUBADEBATE / ALEX CASTRO" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS ALEX CASTRO/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on May 01, 2001 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro (C) leading a march, past the United States Interests Section's building in Havana, where thousands of Cubans joined to celebrate Labor Day. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late Friday in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. "The commander in chief of the Cuban revolution died at 22:29 hours this evening," the president announced on national television. Fidel Castro was 90. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This handout picture released by Cuban official website www.cubadebate.cu shows Bolivian President Evo Morales (R) and Cuban former president Fidel Castro (L) looking at a painting depicting him during his 89th birthday, in Havana. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / CUBADEBATE.CU / HO / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / www.cubadebate.cu" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS HO/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on September 04, 1986 shows Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi (C) and Cuban president Fidel Castro (R) walking along with Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega (L) during the non-aligned countries summit, in Harare, Zimbabwe. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER JOEALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on September 08, 2000 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro (R) shaking hands with the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan during the United Nations Millennium Summit, New York. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / HENNY RAY ABRAMSHENNY RAY ABRAMS/AFP/Getty Images
This file photo taken on August 05, 2000 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro addressing a crowd of 200,000 Cubans, in Pinar del Rio, Cuba during a commemoration rally for the 47th anniversary of the attack on an army base by his rebel forces that launched the revolutionary fight in 1957. AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on November 14, 1999 shows the president of the Peru, Alberto Fujimori (L) talking with Cuban president, Fidel Castro (R), during his arrival at the Havana airport to attend the IX Latin American Summit. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / MATIAS RECARTMATIAS RECART/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on October 18, 2000 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro (C), marching with Secretary General of the Cuban Ministry Council Carlos Lage (L) and local Communist Party leader Esteban Lazo and tens of thousands of Cubans in front of the US Intersection offices in Havana, in protest of the proposed US legislation regarding the economic embargo against Cuba in effect for the past 38 years. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on November 16, 1999 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro trying on a pair of sunglasses as he talks to the media in Havana during the IX Iberoamerican Summit. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / CHRISTOPHE SIMONCHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP/Getty Images
FOR USE ONLY IN NEWSPAPERS, MAGAZINES AND INTERNET (FILES) This handout photo provided by Oficina de Asuntos Historicos del Consejo de Estado and taken in 1976 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro (L) and India's Prime Minister Indira Gandhi taking part in a meeting in the United States. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / Oficina de Asuntos Historicos del Consejo de Estado / HandoutHANDOUT/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on July 24, 2007 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro gesturing as he attends a meeting in front of the United States Interests Office in Havana. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on December 14, 1974 shows Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) chairman Yasser Arafat (R) walking with Cuban leader Fidel Castro during his visit in Cuba in December 1974. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / STFSTF/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on July 11, 1972 shows Cuban leader Fidel Castro (C) wearing a miner dress of Kotowice during his official visit to Poland. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / PRENSA LATINA / --/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on August 13, 1989 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro celebrating his 63rd birthday with a group of construction workers and their families in Havana. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / AIN / HOHO/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This handout photo taken on November 19, 1996 and provided by the Osservatore Romano shows Pope John Paul II and Cuban President Fidel Castro (L) posing for photographers during their historical meeting at the Vatican. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / OSSERVATORE ROMANO / Handout / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / OSSERVATORE ROMANO" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS HANDOUT/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on May 11, 2001 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro listening as he addresses a public lecture in Kuala Lumpur. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / JIMIN LAIJIMIN LAI/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on April 13, 2002 shows Cuban president Fidel Castro participating in the celebration in the town of Guira de Melena, Havana, Cuba. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / NIURKA BARROSONIURKA BARROSO/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on June 21, 2004 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro looking at the crowd prior his speech in front of the US Interest Section in Havana. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on July 26, 2006 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro taking part in the city of Holguin, 700Km from Havana, during the inaguration of an electricity generating plant, as part of the ceremony marking the 53rd anniversary of the assault on the Moncada barracks by rebels led by Castro. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on July 21, 2006 shows President of Cuba Fidel Castro waving upon his arrival at Cordoba airport to participate to the Mercosur's presidential summit in Cordoba, Argentina. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN MABROMATAJUAN MABROMATA/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This handout photo provided by the Oficina de Asuntos Historicos del Consejo de Estado and taken on January 01, 1956 shows Cuban Fidel Castro standing behind bars at the Miguel Schultz prison in the Mexican colony of San Rafael in 1956, after being arrested by the Mexican Police with the cooperation of the then president of Cuba, Fulgencio Batista. AFP/Getty Images
FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016 file photo, Cuba's former President Fidel Castro, right, shakes hands with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a meeting in Havana during Abe's two-day official visit to Cuba. Castro, who led an improbable rebel victory, embraced Soviet-style communism long after the collapse of the Soviet Union and defied the power of 10 U.S. presidents, died at age 90 on Friday, Nov. 25. (AP Photo/Alex Castro, File)
FILE - This Sept. 19, 2016 file photo shows Cuba's former leader Fidel Castro, right, shaking hands with Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, in one of the last pictures taken of Castro before he died, in Havana, Cuba. President Raul Castro said on state television that his older brother died late Friday, Nov. 25, 2016. He was 90. (AP Photo/Alex Castro, File)
FILE - In this May 15, 1960 file photo, American novelist Ernest Hemingway, right, stands with Cuba's leader Fidel Castro who holds a trophy after winning the individual championship in the annual Hemingway Fishing Tournament in Havana, Cuba. Castro has died at age 90. President Raul Castro said on state television that his older brother died late Friday, Nov. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/File)
FILE - In this Thursday, Dec. 14, 2000, file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Cuban President Fidel Castro talk before signing agreements in Havana, Cuba. Castro, who led an improbable rebel victory, embraced Soviet-style communism long after the collapse of the Soviet Union and defied the power of 10 U.S. presidents, died at age 90, Friday, Nov. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)
FILE - This Sept. 25, 2016 file photo shows Cuba's former leader Fidel Castro talking with China's Premier Li Keqiang, in one of the last pictures taken of Castro before he died, in Havana, Cuba. President Raul Castro said on state television that his older brother died late Friday, Nov. 25, 2016. He was 90. (AP Photo/Alex Castro, File)
FILE - In this Jan. 1959 file photo, Cuba's leader Fidel Castro addresses a crowd in a park in front of the presidential palace in Havana, Cuba. Castro, who led a rebel army to improbable victory in Cuba, embraced Soviet-style communism and defied the power of 10 U.S. presidents during his half century rule, has died at age 90. Castro died eight years after ill health forced him to formally hand power over to his younger brother Raul, who announced his death late Friday, Nov. 25, 2016, on state television. (AP Photo/Harold Valentine, File)
(FILES) This file photo taken on May 25, 2002 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro speaking to a crowd, holding a Cuban flag, in Sancti-Spiritus, some 340 km (211 miles) east of Havana. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This handout picture released by Cubadebate on July 26, 2010, shows Cuban leader Fidel Castro during a ceremony to pay hommage to national hero Jose Marti at the Jose Marti Memorial in Havana. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / CUBADEBATE / SILVIO RODRIGUEZSILVIO RODRIGUEZ/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This picture released by Cuban official website www.cubadebate.cu shows the former President Fidel Castro gesturing as he attends a meeting with writers, in Havana. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / ROBERTO CHILE / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO/www.cubadebate.cu/Roberto CHILE" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS ROBERTO CHILE/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on September 01, 1997 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro delivering a speech attacking media organizations and groups opposed to his government in the wake of rumours of his death in Havana. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on December 03, 1999 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro in Havana. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This 01 May 2002 file photo shows Cuban President Fidel Castro waving a Cuban flag during a May Day rally in Havana. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This 12 February 2005 file photo shows Cuban President Fidel Castro meditating during the VII International Globalization Meeting in Havana. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
Cubans are seen in Havana at the early morning on November 26, 2016. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late Friday in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. "The commander in chief of the Cuban revolution died at 22:29 hours this evening," the president announced on national television. Fidel Castro was 90. / AFP PHOTO / YAMIL LAGEYAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on May 01, 1961 in Havana shows Prime Minister of Cuba Fidel Castro (L), wearing a beret, accompanied by Cuban President Osvaldo Dorticos (C) and Ernesto Che Guevara, Minister of Industry applauding the May Day parade in the official Tribune. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / --/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken in the 60s shows Cuba's Prime Minister Fidel Castro (C) speaking during a meeting next to Ernesto Che Guevara in Havana. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / CUBA'S COUNCIL OF STATE ARCHIVE / STR / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / CUBA'S COUNCIL OF STATE ARCHIVE " - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS STR/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on October 8, 1957 shows Cuban leader Fidel Castro (L) talking with Ernesto "Che" Guevara in the woods of the Sierra Maestra, Cuba. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / STR / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS - NO ARCHIVES STR/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) Photo taken in the 60's of then Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro (R) during a meeting next to Argentine guerrilla leader Ernesto Che Guevara. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / CUBA's COUNCIL OF STATE ARCHIVE / --/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES)This 1959 file photo shows Cuban Fidel Castro (L), then 33 years old, chatting with ailing 31-year-old Ernesto "Che" Guevara, at his barracks in Havana, shortly after both led the revolution that overthrew the Batista regime. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / AGENCIA ESTADO / --/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken in the 1960s shows then Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro (L) lighting a cigar while listens Argentine Ernesto Che Guevara. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / CUBADEBATE / Roberto SALASROBERTO SALAS/AFP/Getty Images
FILE - In this Aug.18, 1999 file photo, Cuba's leader Fidel Castro gestures at a speaking event as he explains that he does not understand why he is not blind after all the camera flashes he has received in Havana, Cuba. Former President Fidel Castro, who led a rebel army to improbable victory in Cuba, embraced Soviet-style communism and defied the power of 10 U.S. presidents during his half century rule, has died at age 90. The bearded revolutionary, who survived a crippling U.S. trade embargo as well as dozens, possibly hundreds, of assassination plots, died eight years after ill health forced him to formally hand power over to his younger brother Raul, who announced his death late Friday, Nov. 25, 2016, on state television. (AP Photo/Jose Goitia, File)
(FILES) This file photo taken on July 26, 2006 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro looking up while delivering a speech at the Plaza de la Patria square in Bayamo, in the province of Granma, during a ceremony marking the 53rd anniversary of the assault on the Moncada barracks. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on January 20, 1998 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro (R) listen to Pope John Paul II as they walk on the tarmac of the Jose Marti International Airport in Havana moments after the Pope arrived for a five-day four city tour of Cuba. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / MICHEL GANGNEMICHEL GANGNE/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on July 24, 1992 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro (L) waving to the Cuban Olympic delegation as they pass the reviewing stand during the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / IOPP / Alberto MARTINALBERTO MARTIN/AFP/Getty Images
FILE - In this Jan. 25, 1998 file photo, Cuba's leader Fidel Castro, left, greets former Pope John Paul II at the Jose Marti International Airport in Havana. Former President Fidel Castro, who led a rebel army to improbable victory in Cuba, embraced Soviet-style communism and defied the power of 10 U.S. presidents during his half century rule, has died at age 90. The bearded revolutionary, who survived a crippling U.S. trade embargo as well as dozens, possibly hundreds, of assassination plots, died eight years after ill health forced him to formally hand power over to his younger brother Raul, who announced his death late Friday, Nov. 25, 2016, on state television. (AP Photo/Ruth Fremson, File)
(FILES) This file photo taken on December 23, 2003 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro (L) and his brother Raul, Minister of the Revoutionary Armed Forces, chat in Havana, during the last meeting of the Cuban Parliament. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on February 12, 2005 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro touches his head while attending the VII International Meeting about Globalization in Havana where he spoke before hundreds of economists. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on October 12, 1995 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro saluting journalists as he speaks with them following his 13 October 1995 arrival at Montevideo's airport. P Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / DANIEL LUNADANIEL LUNA/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on December 1, 1995 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro warm his hands in freezing temperatures on the Badaling section of the Great Wall of China. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECKROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on April 12, 2000 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro (L) greeting UN General Secretary Kofi Annan before a lunch for participants of the G77 meeting hosted by him in Havana. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGETDOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on November 29, 1995 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro (R) saluting the honor guard with Chinese President Jiang Zemin (L) during official welcoming ceremonies 30 November 1995, for the Cuban leader at the Great Hall of the People. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECKROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on December 22, 2005 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro speaking during the 6th Session of the Cuban Parliament at the Conventions Palace in Havana. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / Antonio LEVIANTONIO LEVI/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on July 21, 2006 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro (R) speaking with his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez during a political rally in Cordoba, Argentina. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN MABROMATAJUAN MABROMATA/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on February 26, 1998 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro standing at attention during the funeral of Manuel Pineiro, alias "Barba Roja," in Havana after the retired point man with guerrilla groups in Latin America was killed in a traffic accident. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file handout picture released on Cuba Debate website taken on May 11, 2015 shows French President Francois Hollande (L) posing for a picture with Cuban historical leader Fidel Castro during a meeting in Havana. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / Cuba Debate / ALEX CASTROALEX CASTRO/AFP/Getty Images
In this Oct. 3, 2000 photo, former American president Jimmy Carter and Cuban President Fidel Castro, right, leave the church following funeral services for former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, in Montreal. Castro, who led a rebel army to improbable victory, embraced Soviet-style communism and defied the power of 10 U.S. presidents during his half century rule of Cuba, died at age 90 late Friday, Nov. 25. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press via AP)
(FILES) This file photo taken on July 21, 1998 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro pointing to the exit door of the Cuban parliament as he addresses foreign press correspondents working in Cuba 21 July accusing them of "discrediting socialism, demoralizing the Cuban revolution by using lies and schemes of all sort" during the parliament's opening session in Havana. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on may 1963 shows Cuban First Secretary of the Cuban Communist party and President of the State Council Fidel Castro(L) and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev during a four-week official visit to Moscow. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / TASS / --/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on January 8, 1959 shows Cuban rebel leaders Fidel Castro (R) and Camilo Cienfuegos (L) entering Havana after the victory over the forces of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / PRENSA LATINA / --/AFP/Getty Images
In this Jan. 26, 1976 photo, Margaret Trudeau smiles as Cuban President Fidel Castro holds her youngest son Michel after the Trudeaus arrived in Havana, Cuba. Castro, who led a rebel army to improbable victory, embraced Soviet-style communism and defied the power of 10 U.S. presidents during his half century rule of Cuba, died at age 90 late Friday, Nov. 25. (Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press via AP)
FILE - NOVEMBER 26, 2016: It has been reported that Cuba's former leader Fidel Castro has died at the age of 90. 5th July 1968: Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro, presents a photograph in which General Ovando Candia and other men of the Bolivian Army get drunk to celebrate the murder of Che Guevara, the Latin American revolutionary. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
This file photo taken on January 26, 2001 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro waving a flag during a visit 27 January, 2001, to the Havana neighborhood of San Jose de las Lajas. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
File photo of Cuba's President Fidel Castro and former South Africa's President Mandela in Johannesburg during a visit to Mandela's home in Houghton, Johannesburg in this September 2, 2001 file photo.
July 27, 1991: Cuban President Fidel Castro, right, and African leader Nelson Mandela gesture during the celebration of the "Day of the Revolution" in Matanzas
Handout picture released by Bolivian news agency ABI, showing Cuban former president, Fidel Castro (R), on his 89th birthday, with Bolivian President Evo Morales (C) and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, in Havana, on August 13, 2015. AFP/Getty Images
Fidel Castro votes in municipal elections at his house in Havana (AP)
Fidel Castro has died aged 90, his brother Raul, the Cuban president, has announced
A man in front of decorated store windows celebrating Fidel Castro's upcoming 90th birthday (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
TOPSHOT - People display images of Cuban former president Fidel Castro during the May Day parade at Revolution Square in Havana, on May 1, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / JORGE BELTRANJORGE BELTRAN/AFP/Getty Images
Pope Francis and former Cuba president Fidel Castro during a meeting at Castro’s home in Havana
In this picture made available by the Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano Pope Benedict XVI meets with Fidel Castro in Havana, Wednesday, March 28, 2012. (AP Photo/Osservatore Romano)
Fidel Castro and Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez in Havana, Cuba (AP)
President Raul Castro (right) and his brother, the former president Fidel Castro. On their return to Washington they suggested that both men had displayed unexpected warmth and curiosity about President Obama and his intentions
Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro speaks at a special session of parliament (AP)
A woman walks past a political poster reading "Long live Free Cuba" in Havana on March 19, 2016. Political and economic reforms in Cuba will be a no-go area during talks between Cuban leader Raul Castro and US President Barack Obama, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said Thursday. Obama will be on Sunday the first sitting US president to visit Cuba since 1928, capping his historic policy of ending a bitter standoff that has endured since Fidel Castro's overthrow of the US-backed government of Fulgencio Batista in 1959. AFP PHOTO/ RODRIGO ARANGUARODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/Getty Images
FILE - In this March 14, 1957 file photo, Fidel Castro, the young anti-Batista guerrilla leader, center, is seen with his brother Raul Castro, left, and Camilo Cienfuegos, right, while operating in the Mountains of Eastern Cuba. Cuban President Raul Castro has announced the death of his brother Fidel Castro at age 90 on Cuban state media on Friday, Nov. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew St. George, File)
This file photo taken on May 13, 2002 shows Cuban President Fidel Castro (L) calling for time as former US president Jimmy Carter (R) prepares to throw the first pitch in a baseball game 14 May 2002 in Havana. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
This file photo taken on March 11, 1995 shows Cuban leader Fidel Castro greeted by United Nations Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali on his arrival at Bella center conference hall in Copenhagen. Fidel Castro died on November 26, 2016 according to a statement from the President of Cuba, Raul Castro. / AFP PHOTO / GERARD FOUETGERARD FOUET/AFP/Getty Images
This file photo taken on April 2, 1989 shows Cuban president Fidel Castro (L) welcoming General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev (R) during the official ceremony for Gorbachev's arrival in Havana, on April 2, 1989. Fidel Castro died on November 26, 2016 according to a statement from the President of Cuba, Raul Castro. / AFP PHOTO / ROBERT SULLIVAN AND -ROBERT SULLIVAN/AFP/Getty Images
This file photo taken on May 1, 1961 shows Prime Minister of Cuba Fidel Castro (L), wearing a beret, is shown in file photo dated, accompanied by Cuban President Osvaldo Dorticos (C) and Ernesto Che Guevara, Minister of Industry applauding the May Day parade in the official Tribune in Havana. Fidel Castro died on November 26, 2016 according to a statement from the President of Cuba, Raul Castro. / AFP PHOTO / --/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken in the 60s shows then Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro (R) while talking with Argentine guerrilla leader Ernesto Che Guevara. Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro died late on November 25, 2016 in Havana, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on national television. / AFP PHOTO / CUBADEBATE / ROBERTO SALAS / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO/ROBERTO SALAS/CUBADEBATE" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS ROBERTO SALAS/AFP/Getty Images
View of the front page of Cuban Granma newspaper reading "Cuba is Fidel" in Havana, on November 27, 2016, two days after Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro died aged 90. One of the world's longest-serving rulers and modern history's most singular characters, Castro defied 11 US administrations and hundreds of assassination attempts. / AFP PHOTO / YAMIL LAGEYAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images
View of the front page of Cuban Tribuna de la Habana newspaper reading "Until victory forever, Fidel!" in Havana, on November 27, 2016, two days after Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro died aged 90. One of the world's longest-serving rulers and modern history's most singular characters, Castro defied 11 US administrations and hundreds of assassination attempts. / AFP PHOTO / YAMIL LAGEYAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images

Fidel Castro was born on August 13 1926, attending Catholic schools before graduating from the University of Havana with a degree in law.

Two years later, he ran for election to the Cuban House of Representatives, but the elections were halted by the then dictator Fulgencio Batista.

As a result an enraged Castro assembled a small force and attacked the Moncada army barracks in Santiago de Cuba in 1953.

It failed and most of his supporters were killed or captured. Castro was himself captured and sentenced to 15 years in prison, but he was pardoned after just two years.

It was during his trial that Castro delivered his famous "History will absolve me" speech.

In it he said: "I warn you, I am just beginning! If there is in your hearts a vestige of love for your country, love for humanity, love for justice, listen carefully.

"I know that the regime will try to suppress the truth by all possible means. I know that there will be a conspiracy to bury me in oblivion. But my voice will not be stifled - it will rise from my breast even when I feel most alone, and my heart will give it all the fire that callous cowards deny it.

"Condemn me. It does not matter. History will absolve me."

Castro went into exile in Mexico where he trained a group of revolutionaries called the 26th of July Movement. In December 1956, his forces, supported by Che Guevara and others, invaded Cuba from the ship Gramma, but suffered serious losses.

However, the revolutionaries hid in the Sierra Maestra mountains, gaining support among the peasants. Eventually, on January 1 1959, Batista fled the island and Castro assumed power.

Relations with the US declined rapidly. In 1960, Castro took over the US oil refineries in Cuba and the Americans stopped buying Cuban sugar.

He responded by taking over all US businesses in Cuba, and a furious President Kennedy responded with the CIA-bankrolled Bay of Pigs invasion attempt.

Various theories have been put forward for the failure of this operation. One was that Kennedy, at the last minute, mysteriously withdrew essential air support, and another was that the president had gravely under-estimated the scale of support for the Marxist Castro among the Cuban people.

Castro feared another US attack, and so when Khruschev offered to place nuclear missiles on the island, he agreed.

This brought Kennedy and Khruschev into face-to-face snarling conflict, until Khruschev backed down.

Castro, who was no more than a pawn in this dangerous international conflict, felt let down by the USSR, which nevertheless continued to prop up the island's otherwise dire economy.

Despite this setback, and later the even more damaging effect of the collapse of the Soviet Union, Castro's omnipotence over Cuba remained undisputed.

During his years in power he reputedly amassed a huge fortune, although he fiercely denied it.

The US business and financial magazine Forbes in 2005 listed Castro among the world's richest people with an estimated net fortune worth 550 million US dollars. Later, the magazine increased the estimates to 906 million US dollars, amid rumours of large cash stashes in Switzerland.

Castro himself described these reports as "lies and slander" and said they were part of a US smear campaign to discredit him.

He vowed: "If they can prove I have a bank account abroad with 900 million dollars, with 1 million dollars, 500,000 dollars, 100,000 dollars or 1 dollar in it I will resign."

It was claimed by his supporters that money from state-owned companies was pumped back into the island's economy and not into Castro's wallet as was suspected by his enemies.

Indeed, Castro did much to improve education and health services and other social services on the island.

The various assassination attempts were straight from the pages of James Bond. These included an attempt to smuggle a jar of cold cream containing pills into his room, the exploding cigar, a fungal-infected scuba-diving suit and a mafia-style shooting.

Some of these plots were depicted in a documentary entitled 638 Ways To Kill Castro. He once said in regard to the myriad failed attempts on his life: "If surviving assassination attempts were an Olympic event, I would win a gold medal."

It was in January 2004 that question marks appeared over Castro's health, with speculation that he had once had a heart attack, that he had suffered from cancer and that he had neurological problems. None of this speculation was confirmed.

In October of that year, he tripped and fell in front of TV cameras following a speech he gave at a rally. He broke a kneecap and fractured his right arm, but was able to recover his ability to walk.

His subsequent illnesses were to transform the strong and strident man of Cuba into a mere physical shadow. But he lost none of his zeal.

In April 2016, ahead of his 90th birthday the following August, he gave a speech to the Cuban Communist Party faithful, saying: "Soon I'll be like all the others.

"The time will come for all of us, but the ideas of the Cuban Communists will remain as proof on this planet that if they are worked at with fervour and dignity, they can produce the material and cultural goods that human beings need, and we need to fight without truce to obtain them."

His brother Raul Castro, the president of Cuba, announced his death on state television late on Friday in Cuba.

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